Monday, January 18, 2021

Editorial: Acting swiftly, not wisely – Champaign News-Gazette

"For every action, there’s a reaction — in this case, people fleeing the state because they have had all they can stand. Who can blame them when so many members of the General Assembly live in an alternative universe where political might makes right regardless of the intended and unintended consequences?"

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Column: No longer speaker, but firmly still in the game – Champaign News-Gazette

Jim Dey: "What now for Madigan and Illinois? He’s keeping his own counsel. There are suggestions he’ll resign his House seat. But he’s still the chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party, the boss of his Chicago ward and an influential guy who has all the state’s movers and shakers on speed dial."

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Springfield bars can resume indoor service at 25% capacity – The Southern Illinoisan (Carbondale)

The move comes two weeks after the Sangamon County Department of Public Health announced that restaurants could resume indoor service, also at 25% seated capacity.

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Can Illinois pick up the pace of vaccinations as it moves to the next phase? – The Southern Illinoisan (Carbondale)

State and city leaders have said more doses are needed from the federal government to speed up vaccinations. But a limited number of available doses isn’t the only reason more Illinois residents haven’t been vaccinated. There also has been criticism about the distribution effort, and hurdles including hesitancy among some health care workers and logistical issues.

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All quiet at the Illinois Capitol as protests fail to materialize Sunday – Chicago Tribune*

“One of the reasons you probably don’t see a lot of people out here is because the security is at such a high level,” said Maj. Gen. Richard Neely, commander of the Illinois National Guard. “I also believe some people probably, in my personal opinion, saw things get out of control in D.C. (on Jan. 6) and they really don’t want to see that happen across the nation.”

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Illinois collects $62-million in cannabis revenue for neighborhoods – FOX32 (Chicago)

But the money hasn’t been spent yet, according to a published report. The reasons include problems with the state’s system to hand out new cannabis business licenses and numerous requests for help.

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Ethics advocates happy Illinois Legislature’s reform attempt failed – Center Square

"From its introduction, the ethics reform bill was steeped in irony; 87 pages of unvetted legislation inserted into a shell bill via a floor amendment in the middle of the night amid a flurry of other bills to be considered by a lame-duck Legislature."

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Manar looks back on Senate tenure, forward on role in Pritzker administration – State Journal-Register (Springfield)

Even Republicans have their share of praise for what Manar was as a legislator and a politician. Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, said that he was the kind of person that you could work with and have a good relationship, even if he was a member of the opposite party.

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Business Groups Concerned over Decoupling Proposal – Alton Daily News

The plan has drawn opposition from at least twelve business groups as burdening them with a tax hike as they struggled through a pandemic. “If they want to really, truly try to work out way out of this crisis, we have to do a couple of things, and one is to have a real discussion about the spending that we do and how we are going to fund it,” said Illinois Fuel and Retail Association. CEO Josh Sharp.

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Zorn: Welch’s past should’ve prompted Illinois Democrats to slow down election of new speaker – Chicago Tribune*

"(I)n September 2018, a considerably less forgiving Welch tweeted that Republicans should 'do the right thing and withdraw (Brett) Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court' over allegations that he’d groped a young woman when he was in high school more than 35 years earlier. The testimony of Kavanaugh’s accuser was 'credible and riveting!!!' Welch wrote."

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Editorial: Boss Madigan Falls at Last – Wall Street Journal*

"Anyone who’s dreaming of a new era of growth economics or spending restraint will probably be disappointed...The old boss may be gone, but his system survives."

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Madison County Board To Discuss Advisory Referendum To Reduce Its Size – RiverBender

“Successful organizations are always looking to improve,” Chairman Kurt Prenzler said. “This is something the voters should be asked.” The Madison County Board is one of four Illinois counties with the maximum number of board members allowed by law: 29.

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Column: State lacks new money for school-funding program that grants property tax relief – Daily Southtown*

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the Evidence-Based Funding for Student Success Act into law Aug. 31, 2017. Legislators said the measure was in response to complaints that a lack of state funding for schools caused excessively high property tax bills.

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Illinois police officers will be required to wear body cameras – ABC20 (Springfield)

One main challenge police departments will face is the cost to buy body cameras. Each camera runs about $1,000. “I do strongly support the use of body cameras, but if every law enforcement officer has to wear one, we’re going to be probably double what we’re paying now when you add in storage plus other fees,” Springfield Police Chief Kenny Winslow said.

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A lesson for Illinois on cash bail? New York, California also got rid of it, but reforms didn’t last – Chicago Sun-Times*

“New Jersey, more so than any other state, stands out as an encouraging example of what is possible for reducing both incarceration and crime and doing so in a data-driven, deliberate and inclusive way,” said Roseanna Ander, director of the University of Chicago Crime Lab. “But it was years in the making, with intensive planning and consensus building across a broad array of stakeholders from civil rights groups, law enforcement, elected officials, the courts and community leaders.”

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Illinois Region 5 Becomes First to Return to Tier 1, Resume Indoor Dining – NBC5 (Chicago)

The region includes the following counties: Marion, Jefferson, Wayne, Edwards, Wabash, Perry, Jackson, Franklin, Williamson, Saline, Hamilton, White, Gallatin, Union, Johnson, Pope, Hardin, Alexander, Massac and Pulaski.

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Few Protesters Outside Illinois State Capitol Building Saturday – NBC5 (Chicago)

Outside the capitol building, two protesters who had gathered in protest of Illinois' restrictions imposed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. "I think it's terrible that people are taking what are supposed to be good, peaceful movements where people are trying to do good things in the community and turning them into these violent ordeals," said demonstrator Ashley Ramos.

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Illinois National Guard to assist medical personnel at Cook County vaccination sites – WGNTV (Chicago)

They are slated to assist with paperwork to help Phase 1-A of vaccine administration to run smoothly.

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Protesters call for Rep. Mike Bost to resign following vote to object election results – KDSK (St. Louis)

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State Capitols Boarded Up, Fenced Off, Patrolled By Troops – WTTW (Chicago)

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Here’s why City of Springfield is collecting, but not spending pot sales tax revenue – State Journal-Review (Springfield)

McCarty said it’s a problem municipal budget directors are facing across the state. He’s alerted the Illinois Municipal League and local elected officials of the problem, which now has the attention of the governor’s office.

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Still No Resolution For North Chicago Police Pensioners Told To Work As Dispatchers Or Lose Their Benefits – CBS2 (Chicago)

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Thousands of Illinois Drivers Would Get Their Licenses Back Under a Criminal Justice Reform Bill – ProPublica Illinois

A spokesman for the secretary of state said there are about 500,000 holds on licenses over traffic debt, although one person can have multiple holds. State officials could not immediately say how many individual drivers have lost their licenses.

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Some High Schools Sports Can Return in Illinois With Tier 2 Mitigations, Pritzker Says – NBC5 (Chicago)

“This is certainly positive news for three regions of the state, but we still have a long way to go until we get all of our student-athletes back to being active,” IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said. “High school student-athletes are hurting from a mental, physical and emotional standpoint, so we hope this is the first step toward getting that back to some normalcy.”

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John Kass: A ‘new day’ or same old for Illinois taxpayers? – Chicago Tribune*

"All politics is local. In Illinois, government isn’t a pompom for cheerleading. It’s a hammer."

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‘Optimistic’ Pritzker urges Congress to pass Biden’s plan for billions in state aid – Center Square

“The governor continues to hope for magic money from Washington to exempt him from the responsibility of responsibly balancing the budget,” said Illinois Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorn Woods. “But even President Biden is unlikely to hand us a blank check. It’s time to actually buckle down and start the hard work that he’s avoided to date.”

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Why Mayor Lightfoot had a bad time in Springfield – Crain’s

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot emerged from the Illinois General Assembly's abbreviated session bruised by new legislation that will worsen the city's financial woes and weaken her hand with public-sector unions. One bill passed in the session sweetens Chicago firefighter pensions, adding hundreds of millions of dollars to the city's pension tab. Another gives the Chicago Teachers Union, already one of the sharpest thorns in the mayor's side, bargaining powers it lost in 1995. And leaders in the Illinois Senate are committed to taking away her power to appoint school board members even though the effort is delayed for now.

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Illinois politics redux – Illinois Times

Bill Dwyer, former newspaper reporter, doesn’t spare words when it comes to Emanuel "Chris" Welch, the new Illinois House speaker. “He’s the worst of the worst when it comes to crony politics,” says Dwyer, who lives in the Chicago area.

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Biden Plan Could Rescue States and Cities From Pandemic’s Financial Toll – Bloomberg

The measure proposes $350 billion of emergency aid to states and local governments, enough to more than cover the immediate budget shortfalls caused by shutdowns to contain the virus.

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Data show true ‘state of the state’ in Illinois – Opinion – Crain’s

"Although COVID-19 caused real gross economic output to decline in the second quarter of last year by 30.6 percent, annualized, what's concerning are the pre-pandemic cracks that left Illinois extremely vulnerable to a downturn and its most vulnerable citizens even worse off.... During the State of the State, Pritzker needs to bring these reforms as his economic glue pot. Just chasing a bigger money pot will only widen the cracks."

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Biden Relief Plan Tosses $350 Billion Lifeline to States, Cities – Bloomberg*

The prospect of more aid once Biden takes office and Democrats control the Senate was welcome in the municipal-bond market...The extra yield that investors demand to own the bonds of some of the most financially strained borrowers -- including Illinois, New Jersey and New York’s MTA -- has dropped, indicating that investors are pricing in less risk.

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Editorial: Policing and outrage at a rushed criminal justice reform bill – Chicago Tribune*

"Unlike New Jersey, which worked carefully with multiple stakeholders with its no cash bail program, supporters here threw everything but the kitchen sink into one bill and heightened alarm and misinformation by jamming it through at the last minute."

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Allegations Against Women Continue to Haunt New Speaker – Illinoize

"(C)oncerns about the incident led at least one House Democrat, Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago), to withhold her vote for Welch and call for a full investigation...“This isn’t a simple situation--and it should not be dismissed as such by any of us. It is my fervent wish that these allegations will be vigorously reviewed so that we can move forward as a unified caucus embracing this historic moment.”

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Illinois mayor apologizes for saying media lied about riot – Southern Illinoisan

Thomasboro Mayor Tyler Evans, who has faced calls to resign since he posted the video, issued a statement Thursday apologizing for his comments and condemning the violence at the Capitol. He said he made it as far as the Capitol steps and saw very little evidence of violence, and that some people told him they'd been allowed into the building.

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Lake County restaurants reopen indoor dining, defying state’s coronavirus restrictions – ABC7 (Chicago)

The coalition is pledging what it calls a responsible, 25% reduced capacity, socially-distant indoor experience, which runs afoul of state-mandated Tier 3 mitigation rules. In its online statement, the group said in part, that all four restaurants "... have great respect for the safety-first approach each of our businesses have taken from the very beginning."

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Illinois State Capitol Windows Boarded Up as Area Braces for Potential Protests – NBC5 (Chicago)

"Illinois Secretary of State Capitol Police, along with other law enforcement agencies, are fully aware of possible marches on state capitols," the Illinois Secretary of State’s office said in a statement. "The Illinois Secretary of State Capitol Police remain vigilant to ensure the Illinois Capitol Complex is safe and secure."

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Pritzker eases restrictions in 3 Illinois regions – WGNTV (Chicago)

Region 1, including counties in Northern Illinois, Region 2 including counties in North Central Illinois , and Region 5 including counties in West Central Illinois, have met the criteria to move to less restricted gatherings and business operations.

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Pritzker activates National Guard ahead of Biden inauguration – Center Square

The Illinois National Guard won't disrupt protesters. Guard members will help local authorities in enforcing street closures and designated perimeters, according to the governor's office.

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While Pritzker talks state worker furloughs, New York delays raises – Illinois Policy

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker could delay the $313 million in raises state workers have yet to receive, but instead he’s considering taking $75 million from their paychecks and leaving taxpayers without their services.

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Population Growth Rates Are Highest in These States – U.S. News and World Report

Illinois (-2%) and New York (-.3%) also saw population losses in the last few years, with both states' 2019-2020 population loss marking their highest such decrease in the last 30 years.

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Comptroller Susana Mendoza talks financial status of Illinois, how to rebound from pandemic – WMBD Peoria

She said the borrowing of $2 billion from the federal government at a 3.5% interest rate was extremely important because COVID-19 is causing the state’s revenue to go way down. “Every penny is being used for Medicaid bills that give us a 56 cent on the dollar back, so that $2 billion turns into more like $3.5 billion when we’re all said and down. I’m going to use that to pay off our healthcare bills, then when we’re done paying all our healthcare bills, we’ll go ahead and put some of that towards bills that are accruing late payment interest penalties to save taxpayers even more money."

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How COVID-19 has affected high school sports in Illinois, from March cancellations to a potential return in February – Chicago Tribune*

"Life in a pandemic is hard for everyone, and it’s hard for all of our kids, whether or not they play sports. That doesn’t make it any easier, but we really are all in this together," Pritzker said.

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Pritzker Praises Biden’s $1.9 Trillion ‘America Rescue Plan’ – NBC5 (Chicago)

“I’m grateful to see President-elect Biden’s serious and effective plan for bringing this pandemic to a close with the urgency Illinoisans deserve,” Pritzker said. “The American Rescue Plan promises to match this moment of national crisis. As I’ve said from the beginning, it is the responsibility of government to deliver real relief when our people are hurting."

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Glenview Man Now Getting Unemployment Benefits After Taking IDES To Court, But What About Others In His Position? – CBS2 (Chicago)

He has called the case his way of standing up for all of the others dealing with issues. Unfortunately, he said the fix IDES made to his claim seemed only to help him. “The system that they have in place to solve problems is broken,” John White said. “Period.”

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Parents say COVID restrictions contributed to Illinois student athlete’s suicide – The College Fix

The state of Illinois, under the leadership of Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker, continues to string along high school athletes. Pritzker cancelled the fall high school football season and appears slow to help get a football season going in the spring.

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IL Senator Tammy Duckworth to serve as vice-chair of DNC, President-elect Biden announces – ABC7 (Chicago)

The senator from Illinois will be part of the team that takes the party through the 2022 midterm elections.

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Student-Athlete Suicides Cited as Reason to Resume IL Sports – Alton Daily News

Gov. J.B. Pritzker last week said they continue to review when sports will be possible. “We have doctors and others that we rely upon internally to help us make some of the decisions and then when we’re at a point to have a conversation with one of the organizations or a number of them, we will do so."

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‘I’m Close To Retirement And I’m Scared:’ Spike In Unemployment Claims Hitting Specific Sectors Hard – CBS2 (Chicago)

“(Businesses) that were fighting to hopefully have a good holiday season and if they haven’t been able to have that are now closing permanently,” said Andrew Challenger of Challenger, Gray and Christmas.

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Illinois Residents Now Receiving Fraudulent Change-Of-Address Letters Thanks To Unemployment Scammers; Anti-Fraud Task Force Launched – CBS2 (Chicago)

“Fraud schemes can go across jurisdictions, and if you just leave it to each isolated jurisdiction to focus on this problem, we’re not going to solve it,” said Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul. “We feel confident that this collaboration will lead to capturing some bad actors.”

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In 1-on-1 Interview, Illinois House Speaker Chris Welch Recounts Whirlwind Journey to Office – NBC5 (Chicago)

Welch’s road to the top spot in the House was not a smooth one. In order to secure the votes needed to win the Speaker position, Welch first had to answer questions about his treatment of women. “Nothing happened that you should be concerned about. I was not arrested and charged and would I handle a situation differently, where I don’t have to go to a police station and answer questions, absolutely.”

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Restaurants demand to reopen statewide as some Illinois regions may see relaxed COVID restrictions – Center Square

State Rep. Mike Murphy, R-Springfield, said the industry knows how to do it right and is reaching a breaking point. “We are just going to find a dying industry here in the next month or two if we do not figure something out."

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Illinois lawmaker considers sending Pritzker a message with agency cuts to get answers on unemployment issues – Center Square

“It’s not a threat, I think it’s more, I think it’s an education,” state Rep. Fred Crespo said. “They’re new and make sure they understand the process.”

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People at Bank of Springfield Center told to quarantine after positive COVID-19 test – Center Square

Jessica Basham, chief of staff in the Office of the Speaker, advised that all House members and staff who were at the facility on Thursday, or around someone who was, should immediately self-quarantine.

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Moving out Madigan – Eric Allie for Illinois Policy

Moving out Madigan

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Moving companies report Illinois exodus hits 10th year – Illinois Policy

United Van Lines research found the majority of respondents leaving Illinois – roughly 34% – cited job opportunities as the reason for their move. The next largest motivators were retirement at 28% and family at 23%.

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Illinois unemployment claims double – Illinois Policy

After the number of Illinoisans filing for unemployment dropped significantly during the holidays, their numbers bounced back up during the week ended Jan. 9. Requests rose to 96,667 from 45,387.

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Additional Tax Liabilities Possible for IL Businesses – Alton Daily News

“It just takes away an avenue for our small businesses, sole proprietors to be able to recover from this incredible economic damage that’s been done to them over the last year,” NFIB Illinois Director Mark Grant said. NFIB joined in opposition to the proposal with Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Grain and Feed Association of Illinois, Hospitality Business Association of Chicago, Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association, Illinois Licensed Beverage Association, Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, Illinois Retail Merchants Association, Technology & Manufacturing Association and the Valley Industrial Association.

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VICTORY: ‘Unconscionable’ Plan to Take COVID-19 Deductions from Small Businesses Fails – National Federation of Independent Business

“Governor Pritzker tried to throw Illinois small businesses under the bus to the tune of $500 million in taxes at a time when too many small businesses are barely hanging on,” NFIB State Director Mark Grant said, warning that the issue may come up again during the 2021 legislation session that began this week.

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Black Caucus notches wins on education, criminal justice as health care proposals fall short in lame duck session – Daily Line

After he was sworn in as the first new speaker in decades, Welch praised his colleagues for their work on the various Black caucus bills. “For Black communities all across the state of Illinois, the time is now to go from protest to progress."

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Column: The Story Behind Illinois’ Latest Public Pension Liability Boost, And Why It’s So Very Illinois – Forbes

Elizabeth Bauer: "It would be funny if it wasn’t so serious — a legislator claiming that “they’re going to do it anyway,” when it’s he himself who had been spearheading the increase, is exactly the sort of action that is, compounded over and over, the reason why Illinois is in exactly the straits it is in."

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Illinois Lawmakers Reject Bid to Cut Business Tax Breaks – Bloomberg Tax*

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s plan to separate Illinois from the net operating loss and excess business loss provisions of the federal CARES Act and shield the state from a $520 million revenue loss collapsed during the final day of a lame duck legislative session.

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Former State Rep. Jeanne Ives responds to Dems rejecting Madigan as Speaker – Illinois Review

Issued over social media, her statement reads, in part, "Illinois needs to change direction 180 degrees. That won't happen under Welch. The moving companies will have another banner year in 2021 in Illinois."

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Rep. Emanuel ‘Chris’ Welch, Madigan’s successor as Illinois House speaker, faces questions about his treatment of women – Chicago Tribune*

A 2002 police report indicates that officers in west suburban Hillside were called to Welch’s home, where an ex-girlfriend told them that Welch slammed her head into a kitchen countertop numerous times after she called him “a loser.” Welch also faced a 2010 federal lawsuit for sexual harassment and retaliation in which a different woman alleged she lost her job at Proviso Township High School District because she broke up with him while he was president of the school board.

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Illinois lawmakers pass legislation to cap payday loans, make it easier for those with convictions to get jobs – Center Square

“Throughout the nation Illinois is known as a judicial hell hole” said Republican state Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer. “Litigation in the state of Illinois is out of control and the more we can make this concise, the better off we are.”

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Welch, Illinois’ first Black Speaker of the House, praises Madigan’s tenure – Center Square

Welch thanked his predecessor for his tenure. “While our state has many problems, our schools are better, more children have access to healthcare, and our working-class families will easily live the American Dream,” Welch said.

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Chicago man was inside Pelosi’s office, feds say; Jefferson Park home raided – ABC7 (Chicago)

Kevin Lyons allegedly traveled to Washington D.C. and took photos outside Speaker Pelosi's office during the melee. In the complaint, prosecutors say Lyons told them he was in Pelosi's office with 20 to 30 people until a Capitol Police Officer entered with a gun drawn and ordered them out.

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Editorial: Goodbye, Speaker Madigan. Now what, Democrats? – Chicago Tribune*

"For a state that has lost roughly 250,000 residents during the last 10 years; for a state that is shrinking while every one of its border states grows; for a state whose voters are fed up with politics and power constantly superseding needed change, Welch could spring us forward at this crucial moment."

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Illinois Lawmakers Vote to End Cash Bail – NPR Illinois

Some controversial elements in the legislation-- including the repeal of qualified immunity status for law enforcement and changes to collective bargaining agreements for police officers -- were removed in the final version.

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Less than 1% of Illinois residents fully vaccinated – Daily Herald*

It's a sobering number, but "the state of Illinois is vaccinating more than 25,000 people a day and we're looking forward to getting more vaccine shipped here as quickly as possible," said Gov. J.B. Pritzker's spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh.

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New Illinois House Speaker Welch promises to ‘possibly make a lot of changes’ to House rules – Center Square

“People mature, they look back and would do things differently and I think my life’s work here in the legislature shows my respect for women,” Welch said.

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A look at what passed and what didn’t in Illinois’ frantic final hours of session – Center Square

While most news reports followed the end of America’s longest-serving legislative leader and the culmination of a year of vindication for a long-ignored Black Caucus agenda, Illinois lawmakers also sent Pritzker legislation that would grant prejudgement interest of 9% annually for wrongful death or personal injury cases.

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Madigan’s reign ends as longest-serving legislative leader in U.S. history – Illinois Policy

"Long thought to be politically untouchable, Madigan was reportedly cleaning out his office yesterday evening. As recently as 2009, he had a neutral approval rating. Nearly 1 in 5 Illinois voters weren’t even sure who he was or had no opinion. And since 1983, a total of three Democratic House members had ever voted against Madigan for speaker. How did it come to this?"

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5 Things To Know About The Education Bill Headed To The Governor’s Desk – WBEZ (Chicago)

The sweeping measure tries to tackle racial inequity on a range of issues, from early childhood education to workforce development. The bill includes a mix of concrete changes, like expanding early childhood education and new programs for students who’ve fallen behind during the pandemic, as well as calling for task forces to address issues over time. It’s unclear how a cash-strapped state will pay for these new initiatives.

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Read Gov. Pritzker statement on impeachment of President Trump – Bloomington Pantagraph

It reads, in part, "We cannot rebuild without ridding ourselves of what’s rotten. We cannot hope to unify without upholding the ideals of justice, democracy and liberty that tie us together as one nation. Today, Republicans joined with Democrats to send that message."

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2nd Trump Impeachment: How Did IL Reps Vote? – Patch Chicago

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, the sole Illinois Republican to vote for impeachment, said the country is in "uncharted waters."

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IHSA sports still on pause, IHSA still hopeful of getting in all seasons – WTVO (Rockford)

“The IHSA acknowledges the immense mental, emotional, and physical strain that a lack of contact with school programs is causing Illinois high school student-athletes,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “This is an effort to provide a viable sports option to high school athletes given the growing number of student-athletes opting for higher risk opportunities within the state and across state lines.”

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Column: That’s entertainment — a heapin’ helping of political victuals – Champaign News-Gazette

Jim Dey: "If one can ignore the fact that Illinois state government is the equivalent of a dumpster fire, the ongoing machinations are first-rate theatrics."

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Illinois House passes sweeping police reform bill – Center Square

House Bill 3653, which passed by a 60-50 vote, will change use-of-force guidelines, require body cameras for every police department in the state, end cash bail, and strip collective bargaining rights relating to discipline from police unions. The Senate passed the bill in the early morning hours of Wednesday by a 32-23 vote.

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Illinois’ mountain of debt will be Madigan’s fiscal legacy – Illinois Policy

No other person in Illinois, or any other state, has had as much influence over both elections and official legislative power as Madigan during the past several decades. That power binds him to the responsibility for unprecedented levels of state debt, primarily by helping secure for politicians and public union workers generous retirement benefits that have proved unaffordable for the private sector workers and businesses who fund Illinois government.

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Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch to replace Michael Madigan as IL House speaker – WGNTV

House lawmakers in Springfield have elected Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch to replace Michael Madigan and become the first Black speaker of the House. Note: Read the statement outgoing Speaker Michael Madigan released upon Welch's election here.

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Illinois lawmakers could soon erase up to $1 billion in business tax assistance – Center Square

A vote on the bill in the first hours of Wednesday morning saw the House fall ten votes short, with several Democrats abstaining. Through a procedural maneuver, the measure’s supporters could call the bill again before the 101st General Assembly concludes at noon.

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Illinois House in limbo until speaker is elected – Illinois Policy

"The last time the speaker’s gavel was in such contention was 1975, when it took two weeks and 93 votes to arrive at a winner. If no clear contender emerges in time for the speaker election on Jan. 13, the same gridlock could be in store for Illinois this year."

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Illinois was most corrupt of 10 largest states under Madigan’s reign – Illinois Policy

Illinois averaged over one federal public corruption conviction a week during the Madigan era. That is the most convictions per capita among the top 10 most populous states between 1983 and 2018.

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Reports: Rep. Welch in line to become Madigan’s successor – WBBM

Rep. Emanuel "Chris" Welch

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Public Pension Roundup: Bailing out Pensions, The Return of Pension Envy, Kentucky Lawsuit, and more – Stump

By actuary Mary Pat Campbell.

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John Kass: The Illinois plane, with no pilot, is going down – Chicago Tribune*

"'Getting rid of Madigan matters. There’s no argument there,' government budget analyst Ted Dabrowski of wirepoints.org told me on Tuesday...Even if Boss Madigan loses power, 'too many residents know that the current group of legislators won’t change anything, so they keep leaving,' Dabrowski said. 'No state is losing people like Illinois is. We’re shrinking, and you can’t build a state on that.'"

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IL Senator Plummer on passage of defund police bill – Madison-St. Clair Record

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Pritzker’s plan to exempt state from federal tax break to address gaping budget hole falls short in initial House vote – Chicago Tribune*

The governor's office said the proposal would prevent the state from losing $500 million in tax revenue from business. Without the change, the state’s budget shortfall could grow from $3.9 billion to as much as $4.9 billion.

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Duckworth, Durbin ask Biden to back biofuels – One Illinois

"Farmers have been irritated with the Trump administration for two and a half years for appearing to favor the oil industry over agriculture by granting refinery waivers allowing reduced ethanol production to major oil companies...Combined with President Trump’s trade war with China, which resulted in retaliatory tariffs on U.S. farm products, it led to reduced demand for corn and soybeans, resulting in reduced market prices that hurt farmers’ bottom lines."

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Education reform bill will head to governor; economic equity bills pass House – Capitol News IL

Debates in both chambers were heated. “We want to help you accomplish these goals. We want the state of Illinois to open up opportunity to everybody who wants to have that opportunity,” Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer, R-Jacksonville. “We all want that same thing. This is not the way.”

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Speaker battle looms over new Illinois General Assembly – Center Square

House Minority Leader Jim Durkin said nothing has been done with his request to Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White to put a temporary parliamentarian in place Wednesday if balloting for Speaker becomes protracted.

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After student suicides, some ask for competition in Illinois to resume amid pandemic – Center Square

Illinois High School Association Executive Director Craig Anderson said it was tragic and not isolated.  “I think it’s more than we could probably imagine, to be honest, I know of other students who have taken their lives. There’s a student from Seneca, and actually there’s a lawsuit pending right now related to that incident.”

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Illinois’s gluttony gobbles up small business aid – Eric Allie for Illinois Policy

Illinois' revenue gluttony gobbles up small business aid

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Pritzker Activates 200 Members of Illinois National Guard to Provide Support During Inauguration – NBC5 (Chicago)

National Guard soldiers from around the country will be deployed to Washington after President Trump declared a state of emergency in the city. Reports of further violent demonstrations have popped up in the aftermath of the riots in the Capitol, including threats of armed actions in all 50 state capitals.

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These Illinois regions could see Covid restrictions relaxed Friday as state reports 6,642 cases, 117 deaths – WGNTV (Chicago)

As many Illinois regions see declining numbers of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, some will be allowed to move down from Tier 3 coronavirus mitigation measures to less-restrictive tiers starting Friday, Governor JB Prizker reiterated Monday.

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Permanent vote-by-mail expansion moves to House floor – Capitol News IL

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville, said those vote-by-mail provisions were successful in the 2020 general election and should continue in the upcoming consolidated elections. The consolidated primary election is scheduled for Feb. 23.

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Illinois lawmaker resigns after loss, drives through Springfield on way to new home in Arizona – Center Square

Former Illinois lawmaker Allen Skillicorn leaves for ArizonaHe said in his statement, “For more times than I care to count, the Democrat majority and, disapprovingly, many Republicans have voted to pass legislation that raised taxes, increased spending, and created more regulation. It is to Illinois a death by a thousand legislative cuts.”

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Legislative panel approves Pritzker’s emergency mask rule for Illinois – Center Square

The emergency rule remains in effect until June, until the governor repeals the rule or JCAR approves any possible future motion to suspend.

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Why the longest-serving speaker in the country just admitted defeat – KCTV (Kansas City)

"On the old Star Trek' series, there was a 3-D chessboard. Consider Madigan to be the political grandmaster."

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Column: Politics and policy competing for legislative attention – Champaign News-Gazette

Jim Dey: "But there’ll be drama aplenty as unfolding events lay the groundwork for what could be a paralyzed legislative body when the newly elected House starts at noon Wednesday."

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Column: What’s So ‘Equity Centric’ About Pritzker’s COVID Vaccine Plan? – Patch Chicago

Mark Konkol: "'I believe strongly that we ought to protect more of our seniors, earlier, than [the federal government] has recommended,'is how the governor put it. If you think that sounds like a politically motivated cocktail of fuzzy math and pseudoscience, you're not alone.

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Black Caucus puts Welch forth as speaker candidate – Capitol News IL

Welch has most recently been in the news as the chairman of a House committee launched by Republicans to investigate Madigan’s ties to Commonwealth Edison. Welch and two other Democrats on the committee voted to end the investigation after just three meetings in four months.

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Illinois House set to pass bill increasing pre-judgment interest for personal injury plaintiffs – Madison St.-Clair Record

The bill would would lengthen the pre-judgment interest accrual period to when an alleged wrongdoer has notice of the injury versus when a plaintiff files suit. Because of the state's statute of limitations law, that could add as much as two years of interest at 9 percent a year owed by defendants.

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Boss Madigan Teeters in Illinois – Wall Street Journal

The man most responsible for the dreadful condition of Illinois politics and the state’s finance has finally suffered a tentative defeat. On Monday Mike Madigan, the speaker of the Illinois House for all but two years since 1983, said he will suspend his attempt to seek the 60 votes he needs for another term as the boss.

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Durbin, Schneider bill could deem MAGA rallies “domestic terrorist activity,” Curran responds – Illinois Review

Durbin said in a statement, "Our bill would establish offices to combat domestic terrorism with the Department of Justice, FBI and Homeland Security. It would require to regularly assess domestic terrorism threat." The bill passed the US House last fall and stalled in the US Senate.

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Pritzker: Feds Holding Back ‘Enormous Stores’ of COVID-19 Vaccine – WTTW (Chicago)

Though the pace of vaccination hasn’t been as rapid as many would like, Pritzker said Illinois has made enough progress that he will shortly give the go-ahead for some local health departments to move beyond inoculating health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities (described as phase 1A in the state’s vaccine distribution plan).

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Governor Pritzker To Ask Incoming Biden Administration For More COVID Vaccine Doses, But Some Aren’t Being Used In Illinois – CBS2 (Chicago)

The governor said everyone in Illinois should have the vaccine by the end of the year, and he envisions large vaccine sites and perhaps the U.S. Army and National Guard could lead distribution efforts.

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Editorial: The exit sign for Mike Madigan is lit. Finish the job, Democrats. – Chicago Tribune*

"Madigan is drenched in power because his members tolerate it. Finally, a crack has opened to allow for a change in leadership. This is the moment for rank-and-file, reform-minded Democrats to snatch it back for the betterment of the state."

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Pritzker ramps up security after FBI warns of capitol threats – Herald and Review (Decatur)

The internal FBI bulletin warned, as of Sunday, that the nationwide protests may start later this week and extend through Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration. Pritzker would not discuss specific safety measures, "but suffice to say, the (Illinois State Police) is quite well aware of the challenges that may crop up."

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Governor weighs in on criminal justice reform bill – Capitol News IL

“Those bills are quite extensive, I’m not going to go down every issue,” he said. “But, I have favored ending cash bail, I’ve worked with (Sen. Robert Peters, D-Chicago) on it. … I favor the work that (Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul) is doing on police reform, we’re all working together, I think, to get good results.”

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Bill to end Medicaid managed care advances in House – Capitol News IL

The bill also calls for a three-year moratorium on any hospital closures or downsizing.

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Opposition to income tax hike in Illinois mounts – Center Square

"Tax hikes are not working. It is not turning around the economy of Illinois, it is making it worse,” said Brian Costin, state director for Americans for Prosperity. “People are making huge sacrifices during the COVID-19 pandemic. They shouldn’t be asking for more money from the taxpayers during this very difficult time.”

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Pritzker says widespread availability of COVID-19 vaccine, treatments needed before state can lift restrictions – Center Square

Even with the vaccine going out, Pritzker still couldn't say exactly when to consider it “widely available” as the state works through phases of distribution for certain populations over others. “You can do your own math to determine when we’ll get to a number that people can really be safe."

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51 House Democrats back Madigan for speaker in caucus vote – Illinois Policy

See who your representative backed in a historic fight for the Illinois House speakership.

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Monumental education package to rid Illinois of systemic racism clears the Senate – IL Senate Democrats

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Illinois makes its case in challenge to GO borrowing authority – The Bond Buyer

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Illinois Comptroller will no longer withhold state payouts for red-light camera fees – Center Square

“My office is taking decisive action in response to unethical arrangements that have come to light regarding the red-light camera industry,” Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza said. Her announcement comes on the heels of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announcing the city will ticket speeders caught on camera going 6 mph over the limit.

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State veterans affairs director resigns in aftermath of deadly COVID-19 outbreak – Capitol News IL

Chapa LaVia’s resignation came after the House Civil Judiciary Committee questioned her role in the outbreak at the LaSalle home, where 36 residents have died of COVID-19 since Nov. 1. Lawmakers said Chapa LaVia’s performance during the hearing reflected poor leadership which caused them to lose confidence in her ability to lead the agency.

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Dems’ Epic Fail – Eric Allie for Illinois Policy

Democrats' epic tax fail

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Madigan suspends campaign for House speaker – Illinois Policy

What comes next is likely to be a contentious battle for power in Madigan’s wake. Yet regardless of who is the next speaker, little is likely to change unless the House reforms the practices that concentrated so much power in Madigan’s hands.

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Michael Madigan ‘suspending’ campaign to continue as Illinois House speaker – ABC7 (Chicago)

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Op-ed: Reject political ‘woke’ training for teachers – Chicago Tribune*

"These standards ignore what is most important for our students — that is, increasing the quality of education — and instead force onto teachers a singular view for some of our country’s most-heavily debated topics that they are then expected to carry forth into the classroom."

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Economic equity bill draws scrutiny – Quad City Times

The 334-page bill contains sections dealing with predatory lending, the use of criminal background checks in employment decisions and housing, diversity requirements in state contracting and purchasing, and the removal of lead water pipes in public water systems, something that advocates say disproportionately affects communities of color.

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Black Caucus unveils K-12 education reform bill – Capitol News IL

The bill would also create two new programs – Freedom Schools and the Whole Child Task Force – both with the intent of offering additional resources and opportunities to Black students.

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Column: Black caucus wants to move fast in lame-duck session – Champaign News-Gazette

Jim Dey: "But while the tax issue may or may not be on legislative leaders’ drawing board, four major proposals by the legislative Black caucus were thrown this past week into the legislative hopper and have shaken various public and private sector groups to their core."

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Illinois Rep. Darren Bailey Collapses on House Floor – NBC5 (Chicago)

Following the riot at the United States Capitol, Bailey and his wife offered prayer to followers and encouraged a liquid cleanse, according to Politico. "We’ve embarked on a 21-day fast. Liquid only up until the evening, when we enjoy a healthy meal, because our nation needs prayer and it needs prayer now."

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Editorial: Let the media do its job, legislators – Bloomington Pantagraph

"The state’s lame-duck legislative session in the Bank of Springfield Center opened Friday with unacceptable restrictions on media members. A letter to House Speaker Michael Madigan signed by more than two dozen reporters said the restrictions 'would impair our collective ability to accurately and thoroughly cover the proceedings of the Illinois General Assembly.'"

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World’s Largest Insect Farm To Be Built In Illinois Amid Signs Of Soaring Food Inflation – ZeroHedge

ADM and InnovaFeed will grow and harvest billion and billions of insects called black soldier fly, whose larvae are scavengers and thrive on decomposing organic matter and convert it into a nutrient-rich protein that can be transformed into animal feed.

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Rep. Schneider Announces Intent to Help File Articles of Impeachment Against President Trump – NBC5 (Chicago)

“The president’s encouragement of the insurrection and his intended disruption of our Constitutional duty to count the certified electoral college ballots is a direct threat to our rule of law, national security and democracy,” he said. “His willingness to incite, and potentially facilitate, violence against a coequal branch of government are as much a mortal threat to our Constitutional republic as they are a violation of our nation’s laws."

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Higher education reform bill unveiled – Capitol News IL

The action came on the second day of the General Assembly’s lame duck session, which is focused heavily on a racial and social justice agenda developed over the summer and fall by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus.

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Measure creating reparations committee advances at Illinois statehouse – Center Square

“You see proliferation for casinos that are specific to Native American communities,” House Bill 5024 sponsor state Rep. Will Davis, D-Hazel Crest, said. “It was something that was offered to them to repair the relationship. I can’t point to something that was given to African Americans in the same vein.”

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Despite historic unemployment claims, fraud and other issues, no oversight hearings expected – Center Square

IDES last week said they’ve stopped 350,000 fraudulent claims, but couldn’t say how much of the $19 billion in claims paid out was the result of fraud.

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Red Tape Blocked Some Veterans’ Home Residents From Getting Donated Toiletries Amid COVID Outbreak – NPR Illinois

“[Nursing staff] were trying to take care of [residents] as best as possible but these policies kept happening even though we were trying to sound the alarm,” local VAC Superintendent Steven Kreitzer said.

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Small business grant program ends, paying out more than $275 million – Capitol News IL

With 50,000 total applicants, less than 20 percent received money. More than a third of BIG funds went to businesses downstate, 40 percent of grants were made to minority-owned businesses statewide, and more than 80 percent were made to businesses with $1 million or less in annual revenues, according a DCEO press release.

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Criminal Justice reform bill aims to end cash bail, expand police training, maintain police misconduct records – ABC7 (Chicago)

"This is a big problem and requires a bold response. House bill 163 as now amended is a bold response," said John Rakowski with the Illinois State Bar Association.

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Illinois faces major challenges amid COVID fallout as Speaker Madigan struggles to hold onto power – Chicago Tribune*

Since no official business can be conducted by the House until a speaker is elected, a lengthy balloting process could ensue while pressing matters such as the state budget and pandemic recovery are held in abeyance. Madigan, some Democrats contend privately, is counting at the very least on attrition to eventually return him as speaker as issues mount.

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Pandemic-hit Illinois businesses worry what lame duck session could bring – Center Square

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Pritzker wants $500M tax hike on Illinois small businesses – Illinois Policy

"The governor called his proposal a “technical fix” and claimed it would be good for everyone in the state. In reality, the legislative change he is proposing would increase the tax liability for small businesses when many can least afford it and impede economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis."

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Covid-19 accelerated retirement moves as people fled these high-tax states during 2020 – CNBC

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Illinois is the first state to extend health coverage to undocumented seniors – KHN

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Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin to reintroduce Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act – Fox Chicago

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Illinois could become first state to end cash bail with passage of new social justice police reform bill – MSL

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Illinois AG Raoul announces task force to combat unemployment fraud – WGN

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Illinois Black Legislative Caucus introduced sweeping criminal-justice reform bill – Champaign News-Gazette

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Long-term care facilities account for nearly half of Illinois COVID-19 deaths but just 7% of cases: data – ABC Chicago

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Lame duck session could increase liabilities for Illinois small businesses hit by pandemic losses – Center Square

“Unfortunately, COVID also hit our state budget, requiring tough choices about what we can and cannot afford. Right now, we cannot afford to expand tax breaks to businesses that already receive tax breaks," Pritzker said in a statement. "As we recover from the pandemic, we must focus on job creation and balancing our state budget."

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Pritzker Extends Ban on Coronavirus-Related Evictions Until Feb. 6 – WTTW (Chicago)

Illinois’ ban on most evictions is in its 11th month. Evictions filed and approved before the pandemic can move forward if there are “serious health and safety concerns,” officials said.  

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Op-ed: Pritzker’s delayed response to LaSalle Veterans’ Home COVID outbreak was fatal – Chicago Tribune*

State Sen. Sue Rezin: "Exchanging emails and phone calls was not a sufficient response by the Pritzker administration. If it were, the employees and residents of the LaSalle Veterans’ Home would not have had to wait 12 days into the outbreak to receive effective hand sanitizer and PPE."

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Illinois lawmakers move on at-home liquor delivery – Center Square

This is something that helps your mom-and-pop retailers and your consumers” said Alec Laird, Vice President of government relations with the Illinois Retail Merchants Association. But Danielle D’Alessandro, Executive Director of the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild, said small craft brewers are being left out, thus disadvantaged.

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Returning to school: What Illinois parents, teachers, school boards need to know – Illinois Policy

Under Illinois labor law, public school teachers and staff can not engage in a strike when there is a current collective bargaining agreement in place. Striking while under contract is considered an illegal strike. And while refusing to report to work may not be termed an official “strike,” it certainly would look like one – especially if the teachers’ union orchestrates the refusal.

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More Illinoisans collect unemployment as nation recovers – Illinois Policy

Illinois’ employment was ranked as one of the nation’s slowest to recover from the COVID-19 economic downturn in a new survey by WalletHub. Illinois was ranked 42nd, making it one of the states that recovered the least during the past week.

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Unless legislative map process changes, Pritzker’s veto threat means little – Illinois Policy

"Illinois legislative maps are drawn by state lawmakers who pick their voters, instead of the other way around. Without independent mapmaking, nothing will be changed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s threat to veto a partisan map."

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Policing in Illinois could drastically change if this house bill passes in the next week – WQAD8 (Moline)

Whiteside County Sheriff John Booker knows that law enforcement is in need of some change. But he’s upset that law enforcement didn’t get a say in the bill being considered. “It can’t just be a one-sided thing, it needs to be a combined effort to get the outcome that is best for everyone.”

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Madigan’s Siege Mentality May Be the Path to Re-Election as Speaker – The Illinoize

"But to first get the surrender of the holdouts, Madigan has to break their spirit. If he is able to keep a strong coalition together for multiple ballots, the 19 holdouts will see there is no path for them to convince their fellow Democrats to come to their side. If this drags on for days or even weeks, members won’t be able to go home to their families, to their day jobs, and will be eating boxed meals on the floor of the Bank of Springfield for God-knows how long."

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Unemployment fraud task force formed by Illinois attorney general, other agencies – ABC7 (Chicago)

Attorney General Kwame Raoul said Friday the Attorney General's Task Force on Unemployment Insurance Benefits Fraud would allow state and federal resources to be deployed on a large scale to combat unemployment insurance benefits fraud for the first time.

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U.S. Rep. Mary Miller apologizes for Hitler remarks – Center Square

"While some are trying to intentionally twist my words to mean something antithetical to my beliefs, let me be clear: I’m passionately pro-Israel and I will always be a strong advocate and ally of the Jewish community," she said. "I’ve been in discussion with Jewish leaders across the country and am grateful to them for their kindness and forthrightness.”

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Illinois was worst by far for recent restaurant job losses – National Restaurant Assn.

Illinois lost a net 31,100 eating and drinking place jobs in November, which was easily the highest among the 36 states that experienced employment declines.  

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Column: Illinois’ do-nothing legislature will finally convene. Its inaction took a big toll. – Chicago Tribune*

David Greising, of the Better Government Association: "Given the state of Illinois government — all but insolvent, rife with corruption, struggling against a resurgent pandemic and indifferent to issues of equity — there are times when it would almost feel like a relief if the legislature did not meet. But doing the people’s business is its job, and Illinois has a lot of business that needs to be done."

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Illinois spreads shrink as federal aid headwinds shift – The Bond Buyer

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Opinion: The Republican Party must find its way back home – Chicago Sun-Times*

State Sen. Dan McConchie: "While we should never abandon our values, beliefs or advocacy, we must stop perceiving the opposition party as our enemy. We are all equals, dedicated to participating in the political process that is essential to maintaining our status as a great nation."

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IHSA meets with state health officials about sports mitigations – KHQA (Quincy)

IHSA asked IDPH to review the risk levels of all remaining sports and consider lowering the risk levels of some. "There was no expectation that a single meeting would resolve all our questions. However, we believe that collaboration with state officials is vital for the IHSA to be able to develop an informed plan for the 300,000-plus student-athletes and over 800 high schools that encompass the Association.”

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Black Caucus introduces sweeping police legislation, faces opposition from law enforcement – Capitol News IL

The Illinois Fraternal Order of Police called it “the worst thing to happen to our profession” and “the end of the law enforcement profession as we know it” in a statement released Tuesday. And the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police wrote “it might as well be a crime to be a law enforcement officer in Illinois.”

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Riots in Congress bring Illinois Statehouse security concerns into focus – Bloomington Pantagraph

There were no arrests or incidents reported at the Illinois protest, according to Henry Haupt, a spokesman for the Illinois Secretary of State, who estimated it was attended by 40 to 50 people. The Secretary of State Capitol Police force is assigned to the nine buildings comprising the State Capitol Complex.

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Pritzker joins other governors to call for reserved vaccine distribution – WICS (Springfield)

The letter signed by four governors reads, in part, "Our states are ready to work alongside the federal government to expand vaccine distribution so that we can protect the wellbeing of all our residents, families, small businesses and our economy.” NOTE: This article links to the full letter.

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IDES responds to GOP criticisms – Capitol News IL

“The idea that IDES has disproportionate trouble processing new claims or paying out claims is misleading,” Acting Director Kristin Richards said. “A claimant who provides all the necessary data and submits their claim will be processed in a timely and efficient manner and will receive benefits if they are deemed eligible and continue to certify.”

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Pritzker hopes for federal money for Illinois after Democrats regain full control in D.C. – Center Square

Illinois is one of the only states that’s yet to implement spending reductions of any substance since the pandemic began, though Pritzker says savings are happening behind the scenes within his agencies.

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Study shows students more likely to get COVID-19 from family – Center Square

As Illinois school districts transition back to in-class instruction, a new study shows that classrooms don’t pose as big of a risk in spreading the virus as previously thought. “I believe it was extremely important to try to define better what the real risk factors are for children and COVID transmission,”said Dr. Charlotte Hobbs, professor of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

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Ahead of hearing, questions linger over COVID-19 outbreak at Illinois veterans’ home – Center Square

“Is this just lip service or are we actually going to see changes that need to be made and who is enforcing these changes,” State Sen. Sue Rezin said. “Right now we’ve just been told by the administration ‘everything has taken care of and we’ve corrected the problems,’ but we don’t know for sure.”

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Session could include police reforms, criminal justice reforms and cannabis legislation – Center Square

House Bill 163 was amended with 611 pages this week. What was initially a measure for prescription drug monitoring turned into a measure full of changes to the state's criminal code and change to how law enforcement is regulated.

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Rockford-area leaders: State cuts threaten loss of jobs, ‘critical services’ – Rockford Register Star

Reductions in revenue could force Rockford and other cities across the state and region to consider cuts to core services like policing and snow removal. It could also force them to consider implementing a property tax increase, Mayor Tom McNamara said.

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Illinois Hits 1 Million Cases Of COVID-19 – WBEZ (Chicago)

“In a pandemic that has contained far too many tragic milestones, today’s marking of one million cases of COVID-19 diagnosed in Illinois deserves particular recognition,” Gov. JB Pritzker said in a press release.

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Illinois congresswoman condemned for Hitler remark before DC rioting – Center Square

Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider, who announced last month that he is stepping down, said Miller's comments were "disgusting...That language is wrong and disgusting. We urge Congresswoman Miller to apologize.”

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Education Group Recommends Extending School Time – NPR Illinois

“We know that this pandemic has not impacted students equally. Because there were inequities in our system that had existed even prior to this pandemic. This has only been exacerbating that,” said Jessica Ramos, who led efforts on the report for Advance Illinois.

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Jobless Claims Improved Last Week Thanks To ‘Odd’ Plunge In Illinois – ZeroHedge

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‘Republicans stand for law and order’ Illinois GOP denounces DC demonstrations – FOX2 (St. Louis)

"To support what is happening in DC today is to violate that principle. Supporting violence and rioting is Anti-American. The Illinois GOP condemns any and all violence towards our government officials and law enforcement,” writes Illinois GOP Chairman Tim Schneider.

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IHSA hopeful for meeting with IDPH within next week – Champaign News-Gazette

IHSA executive director Craig Anderson sent an e-mail to ADs, encouraging them to make contact with local state representatives in an effort to bring together the IHSA, governor’s office and IDPH. It’s the latest attempt in the ongoing saga. “The general assembly will be organizing again this Friday in Springfield,” Anderson said. “It may be timely for us to collectively solicit support for this meeting.”

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Over 45,000 Unemployment Claims Filed In Illinois Last Week Amid COVID-19 Pandemic – CBS2 (Chicago)

The 45,387 new unemployment claims filed during the week of Dec. 27 in Illinois mark a 59% decrease from the week before.

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Bipartisan Illinois politicians condemn rioters, Trump – Capitol News IL

“Because of today’s events incited by the President, I had to ask the Illinois State Police and other law enforcement resources, engaged in important life-saving missions, to redeploy to heighten their presence at government buildings and the Capitol in Springfield,” Pritzker added.

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Pro-Trump supporters rally at Illinois Statehouse – FOX Illinois

The peaceful Trump rally at the Illinois State Capitol was called "Save the State."

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Column: Madigan’s future will soon be up for House vote – Champaign News-Gazette

Jim Dey: "The 78-year-old Chicago politician has 54 votes but needs 60 retain the speaker’s post. If he falls short, as is now expected, the question is whether Madigan will abandon his candidacy, a move that he would find humiliating, or maintain his bid through a potentially protracted process that would block further House action. There are precedents in Illinois for leadership battles that paralyze the General Assembly."

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Rep. Mike Quigley Tells Story Of Horror And Chaos As Trump Supporters Stormed U.S. Capitol – CBS2 (Chicago)

Quigley said he has one goal in mind – to get back to the House Floor to continue the election certification vote, and before the day is out, if possible. But other lawmakers said the riots on Wednesday make it clear that serious conversations about the future direction of the country are needed.

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IHSA still wants to meet about sports start date, Gov. Pritzker says it will happen when appropriate – Chicago Sun-Times*

State Senator Andy Manar, who will resign his seat later this month and join Pritzker’s administration as a senior advisor, directed some pointed comments at the IHSA: “I do not believe the IHSA has handled this situation well...The idea that the IHSA would give direction to their members to go have sports, knowing that wasn’t going to happen and opening them up to legal ramifications for property tax payers. To me is just a move that was really ill-advised. Unfortunately that was the case.”

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Pritzker Announces When Regions Can Begin to Lift Tier 3 COVID-19 Restrictions – NBC5 (Chicago)

"So on Jan. 15, exactly one incubation period from New Year’s Day, any region that has met the metrics for a reduction of mitigations will be able to move out of Tier Three of our mitigation plan," he said.

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Illinois Republicans demand action on unemployment fraud, overpayment waivers – Center Square

State lawmakers continue to get inundated with calls from constituents having problems with the state’s unemployment agency. Republicans Wednesday said problems began in March with a backlog of filers, which grew and grew as the government COVID-19 restrictions continued. Then the fraud reports began.

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Pritzker doesn’t expect to close $4 billion budget hole during lame-duck legislative session – Center Square

Gov. J.B. Pritzker last month revealed $711 million in cuts included $75 million from personnel “cost adjustments” and furlough days. Asked for an update on those furloughs and personnel cost adjustments Wednesday, Pritzker said: “nothing to announce yet.”

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Illinois elected officials condemn violence at U.S. Capitol – Center Square

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, said on Twitter that he and his staff members were safe. "This is a sad day for our country. The lawlessness has got to stop. Protestors must leave the Capitol so Congress can resume the process of confirming the Electoral College vote," he said.

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Illinois’ members of Congress split on Electoral College vote – State Journal-Register* (Springfield)

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, said objections to the results of the Electoral College put a peaceful transition of power “at risk.”

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Pritzker extends mask mandate for another 150 days – Illinois Policy

Ryan Bandy, a business owner and officer with the Illinois Licensed Beverage Association, said on WMAY radio that local leaders are best suited to make local decisions. “We can’t just have this unilateral decision-making done by the governor all the time, this needs to stop. We need to get at least the legislature involved in it.”

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Illinois Congresswoman Says ‘Hitler Was Right on One Thing’ – NBC5 (Chicago)

Newly-sworn in Rep. Mary Miller was speaking at a rally in Washington, D.C. when a Twitter user posted video Tuesday showing a portion of her speech. "If we win a few elections, we’re still going to be losing unless we win the hearts and minds of our children. This is the battle. Hitler was right on one thing. He said, ‘Whoever has the youth has the future.’”

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Pritzker Calls for President Trump to be Impeached After Supporters Storm U.S. Capitol – NBC5 (Chicago)

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December Flash Index Shows Slow, Steady Recovery For Illinois Economy – Illinois Newsroom

Economist Fred Giertz, who compiles the Flash Index for the U of I’s Institute of Government and Public Affairs, says Illinois tax receipts have improved a lot from the low they reached last spring. “Starting in the summer, there were all kinds of predictions about the bottom falling out of the state revenues. And they are in fact down, but not nearly as much as people expected.”

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Illinoisans age 65 plus to have access to COVID vaccines – AP

The age is lower than a government advisory panel’s recommendation of 75 and older. Pritzker said it was lowered in Illinois to make distribution more equitable, citing data showing elderly Black and Latino residents die younger from COVID-19.

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Illinois dispensaries sell $670 million in cannabis products in 2020 – Center Square

Despite ongoing pandemic restrictions on other businesses, the 79 licensed pot stores in Illinois finished the year in December with $86.9 million in sales. That was more than $10 million more than was sold in November.

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Pritzker to Offer More Vaccine Details as States Grapple with Rocky Roll-out – Center for Illinois Politics

In doing so, Pritzker joins a growing number of governors who have tried to tweak CDC guidelines and state policies to address hitches in the vaccine delivery process. In Illinois, state agency officials and public employee unions are pointing their fingers at each other for the low vaccination rates of workers at veterans homes, even after 34 residents died of COVID-19 at one of the facilities.

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Column: Lame duck session not always good for those about to be goosed – Champaign News-Gazette

Scott Reeder: "State representatives return to Springfield on Friday, but if you ask any of them what they expect to consider, you’re more than likely going to get a shrug. No one knows. It’s a mystery, wrapped in a conundrum and bound up in a riddle."

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#notyou? — Democratic women leading the charge to muzzle the speaker – Chicago Sun-Times*

Spokespeople for Madigan did not confirm that he will appear Wednesday before the House Women’s Caucus to make the pitch for another term, but, if he does, he could find that caucus to be a less receptive audience than the House Black Caucus, which endorsed Madigan last month after its candidate forum.

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Administration still ‘in a pause’ when considering mitigation rollbacks – Capitol News IL

As of Tuesday, only four of the state’s 11 mitigation regions had not met the criteria Gov. JB Pritzker’s administration provided to return to Tier 2 mitigations, from Tier 3.

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GOP lawmakers introduce ‘fair maps’ legislation – Capitol News IL

Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, said the measure is similar to the proposed constitutional amendment that supporters tried to put on the ballot in 2016 before being blocked by a sharply divided Illinois Supreme Court. The main difference is that it would put the process into statute instead of the constitution.

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Illinois House minority leader requests temporary parliamentarian during uncertain Speaker race – Center Square

In a letter to Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, House Minority Leader Jim Durkin said the selection of House Speaker for the 102nd General Assembly “is far from clear.” Some suggest without a clear leader, it could take dozens of ballots to come to a conclusion, taking time away from dealing with other issues the state is facing.

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Pritzker files new emergency rule to continue mask, social distancing mandates in Illinois – Center Square

The updated emergency rule also prohibits gatherings of more than 50 people. Public and nonpublic schools are to have fewer than 50 people in any one space.

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Why one Illinois restaurant owner is packing up – Center Square

Restaurant owners in the town of Waterloo in Monroe County are sticking together and staying open. They say they are following health department guidelines including social distancing, mask-wearing and disinfecting. Owners there say the governor is overstepping his authority by closing them down.

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Vallas Wants to Open Schools – The Illinoize

“Schools should have been re-opened. By May, it was pretty much determined that schools posed minimal risk for children,” former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas said. “That children were least likely to suffer seriously from the pandemic and that children were least likely to be contagious.”

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Editorial: Tax hike? Don’t even think about it, Springfield lawmakers – Chicago Tribune*

"Pritzker says he has identified about $700 million in cuts to help balance the holes blown into this year’s and, as expected, next year’s budgets. But more streamlining is necessary. Turning to higher taxes would be a backhanded slap to every voter who rejected his call for a constitutional amendment allowing higher taxes. He must know that. The Democrats must know that."

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Illinois loses two families for every one gained, annual moving study shows – Center Square

Despite the pandemic upending many industries and untethering workers from a corporate office, the company found Illinois has remained one of the nation’s most pronounced exporters of people.

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Illinois ranks No. 3 on list of Most Moved From states in 2020 – WTVO (Rockford)

The study also said 55% of all moves within the Midwest were outbound moves. Chicago ranked in the top 10 U.S. metropolitan areas experiencing outbound migration, with 69% of moves being outbound.

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Why Are Fewer Than Half Of The COVID-19 Vaccines Sent To Illinois Being Administered? – CBS2 (Chicago)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, so far, 427,000 doses of the vaccine have been sent to Illinois – population 12.6 million. A total of 176,000 people here have received the first dose, or 41 percent of the vaccine in the state now.

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Tax hike in Illinois? Lawmakers to meet Friday as state faces $4 billion deficit – WGNTV (Chicago)

“It’s often been said that no Illinoisans life, liberty or property is safe when the legislature is in session,” House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said. “That has never been more true today and the week ahead.”

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Republicans Say They’re Still Waiting On Pritzker’s Budget Cut Ideas – WGLT (NPR at Illinois State University)

“All those extra services and programs that were passed, they all require state funding to operate,”  Rep. Dan Brady (R-Bloomington) said. “While the Democrats hit send on the press releases announcing them, they never let you know after the fact that a tax hike will be required to pay for them.”

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Renters behind on payments to get federal assistance – Center Square

Illinois’ eviction moratorium is set to expire Saturday but a similar federal measure is in effect until the end of January. Illinois extended the eviction moratorium through 2020, but added stipulations that renters who plan to skip out on payments must prove to the property owners they’re unable to pay.

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Illinois ranks 43rd on unemployment insurance taxes – Center Square

In the Tax Foundation’s analysis, those state tax systems that have low minimum and maximum rates, stick closely to the federal taxable pay levels ($7,000 in base pay), and don’t impose more surtaxes or additional benefits were rated the highest.

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Pandemic response, budget, Black Caucus agenda on table for ‘lame duck’ session – Capitol News IL

The budget that lawmakers passed during that special session with only Democratic votes was about $5 billion out of balance. But it was passed on the assumption that Congress would soon pass a stimulus package that would include aid to struggling state and local governments and that voters in November would approve a constitutional amendment to allow the state to levy a graduated income tax. Neither of those two things happened.

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State Sen. Manar resigns to become senior advisor to Pritzker – Capitol News IL

Manar will be paid $278,000, annually according to the governor’s office, half of which will be paid out from a limited liability company created by Pritzker to compensate several of his top aides beyond their state payrolls.

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Illinois House Democrats differ on possibility of tax increases – Center Square

House Revenue Committee Chairman state Rep. Mike Zalewski, D-Riverside, said he doesn’t expect a last-minute tax increase to surface this year despite a 2011 tax hike passed during the lame-duck session. “It really is not going to be easy for us in a convention center during COVID with a leadership fight going forth to then turnaround and also pass a tax increase."

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We Had the Vaccine from the Start—You Just Weren’t Allowed to Take It – Foundation for Economic Education

"So why was this vaccine delayed for a full year? Because the FDA prohibited rapid 'challenge trials'—where volunteers take the vaccine and then expose themselves to the virus in a lab, rather than waiting agonizing months to see how many catch the virus 'in the wild.'"

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Analyst says data shows opening Illinois schools for some in-person learning is safe – Center Square

UIS professor Gary Reinbold said data he reviewed from nearly a dozen different studies indicates in-person education is safe. “When I say in-school that doesn’t necessarily mean back to going to school all the time because most of the data is coming from places that are doing some form of hybrid schooling. But having them in school at least part of the time doesn’t seem to be leading to new cases.”

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Report: State unemployment compensation trust funds continue to struggle – Center Square

The states and territories in the worst financial shape include the Virgin Islands, New York, California, Hawaii, Texas, Kentucky, Ohio, Massachusetts, Illinois, Colorado, Connecticut, New Jersey, Minnesota, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Georgia and New Mexico.

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When Might Tiered Mitigations Be Lifted? Here’s What the Governor Has Said – NBC5 (Chicago)

According to Gov. J.B. Pritzker the answer on when things could begin to reopen isn't concrete.

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‘Last few months have exposed certain elected officials as unfit for office,’ Breen says – Prairie State Wire

A GOP-sponsored proposal would allow voters the power to initiate recall proceedings against elected officials. While voters have held such powers in the case of the governor for more than a decade now, Former House Republican Floor Leader candidate Peter Breen (R-Lombard) rages much of what is now playing out in Springfield strongly points to the need for those powers to be extended.

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After tumultuous 2020, criminal justice proposals could get priority in new year – Center Square

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has proposed seven principles that he said will reform and modernize Illinois’ criminal justice system. The proposals include ending cash bail, reducing prison sentences, and increasing police accountability.

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Marie Newman sworn into Congress as newest House member from Chicago region – Chicago Tribune*

Newman, a onetime ad agency partner, marketing executive, author and anti-bullying advocate, joins Mary Miller as the two new members in the Illinois delegation for the 117th Congress.

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Illinois residents head to Indiana’s eateries to dine inside – ABC7 (Chicago)

Sylvia Coco, who owns Kilroy's and Dixie Kitchen and Bait Shop in Lansing, said her business is off substantially, perhaps more than than 50%, and one constant has been the looser rules for restaurants and bars in the Hoosier State. "Indiana is pretty much open and doing whatever they want."

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‘We need more vaccine’: Coronavirus vaccine progress falls short as health officials wait for more shipments – ABC7 (Chicago)

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‘An Additional Burden’: Central Illinois businesses prepare for 3rd minimum wage increase – Bloomington Pantagraph

McLean County is joining a new study to track a number of cost-of-living indicators, including housing, gas prices, grocery expenses and more, he said. It is possible that areas with a lower cost of living will be affected more than major metro areas with typically higher costs.

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Dabrowski blasts governor’s COVID-19 response: ‘There is no data being presented that justifies it’ – Prairie State Wire

Wirepoints President Ted Dabrowski wonders if Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s understands the depths of the damage he’s doing to Illinois with his COVID-19 edicts. “Through the pandemic, I think it has been an even more destructive government. Illinois government has again shown itself not to be a good partner for small business.”

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Illinois reports lowest number of COVID-19 deaths since mid-November, state reports 4,762 new cases, 29 deaths – WGNTV (Chicago)

While the numbers are a marked decrease from recent weeks, public health officials warn numbers may be low due to reduced testing hours and locations on the holiday.

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Despite pandemic, Illinois’ legal weed sales skyrocket, but tax revenue not panacea – Center Square

Taxes on the drug can be more than 40 percent, with a portion going to community programs, the state’s backlog of bills and several other areas.

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Chicago Teachers Union Big Shot Says Unsafe To Teach Live… From Her Pool Side In Puerto Rico – ZeroHedge

A republication of our Wirepoints article.

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COVID-19 response results in criticism of state agency handling unemployment compensation – State Journal-Register (Springfield)

“I don’t have any statistics that suggest that we’re handling this any worse than any other states,” IDES acting director Kristin Richards told The State Journal-Register. “What I can tell you is that we’ve paid out over $19 billion in benefits, and that’s no small thing.

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Embattled Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan gets backing for reelection from majority of Latinx Caucus – Yahoo News

From the Chicago Tribune: In a statement from the caucus Friday, state Reps. Elizabeth “Lisa” Hernandez and Fred Crespo said that because of the state’s troubled finances, the need for recovery from COVID-19 and a desire for increased representation in the approaching redrawing of legislative districts, “the majority of Latinx members determined that Speaker Madigan is in the best position to move these priorities forward in the coming term.”

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Timing of latest minimum wage increase adds to business challenges – Herald & Review

"I can't both deal with a raise in pay and a decline in sales. We are already balancing pandemic-related issues. This makes it much much worse.”

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States of Growth and Decline – Wall Street Journal

Wirepoints cited: "Over the last decade, Illinois has lost 243,102 in population, about the size of Peoria and Naperville combined. Only West Virginia (-3.7%) has lost a larger share of its population than Illinois (-2%). Other states in the Midwest including Indiana (4.1%), Iowa (3.7%), Kentucky (3%), Missouri (2.6%), Wisconsin (2.5%) and Michigan (0.9%) have added population since 2010, according to research outfit Wirepoints, so Democrats in Illinois can’t blame cold weather."

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The states people left in 2020 — and why – KGBT (Texas)

"It’s the seventh year in a row the state (Illinois) has seen such a decline, and the Census Bureau estimates that more than a quarter-million people have left the state in the past decade — about triple the losses of other states...(But) Populations aren’t decreasing across the board. The midwest, mountain region and south appear to be drawing new residents in droves."

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